Mary-Christine Sungaila


Partner, Snell & Wilmer


M.C. Sungaila has successfully briefed and argued appeals raising cutting-edge and core business issues statewide as well as nationally and internationally. Over the past decade, she has been the primary architect of winning arguments to screen and exclude unfounded expert testimony in California courts—a standard which previously remained undeveloped in the state. She has helped secure victories in nearly every significant expert testimony case decided by California appellate courts in recent years.

Fortune 500 companies, leading trade associations, and international human rights organizations also have relied on Sungaila to help preserve the attorney-client privilege, limit the reach of class actions and securities laws, extend the assumption of the risk doctrine, prevent compelled speech under the First Amendment, define the scope of the duty to warn sophisticated users of product hazards, overturn multimillion dollar judgments, limit the reach of medical monitoring claims, clarify the standards for interstate enforcement of noncompete agreements, and secure important rights for women worldwide.

She has received multiple awards and recognition for her work, including being named a “Notable Appellate Practitioner” by Chambers U.S.A. and repeatedly named one of California’s Top Women Litigators by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals. In 2011, Sungaila was the only lawyer named in OC Metro business magazine's annual list of the “Top 20 Women to Watch in Orange County.”

Also in 2011, her innovative amicus brief in the closely-watched U.S. Supreme Court class action Wal-Mart v. Dukes—one of 15 different briefs filed in support of Wal-Mart by veteran Supreme Court litigators—earned her the title “Appellate Lawyer of the Week” from the National Law Journal.

Her various articles on effective amicus briefing, appellate brief writing, and gender issues have been cited in over 35 law review articles, treatises and blogs, and appear as required reading on law school course syllabi throughout North America. Her expert commentary has appeared in a variety of publications ranging from the ABA Journal and National Law Journal to the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Sungaila is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and Stanford University. Prior to joining Snell & Wilmer, she was Partner at Horvitz & Levy LLP, and an associate at Irell & Manella LLP before that. She was a law clerk to Hon. Ferdinand F. Fernandez, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and Hon. Alicemarie H. Stotler, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and was an Extern to Hon. Dorothy W. Nelson, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Current Courses:

Appellate Litigation Clinic